Australian golf superstar Cameron Smith is officially unveiled along with a host of other big names by Greg Norman’s LIV Golf – announcing just after he finishes chasing a potential $26 million payday from the PGA Tour.
The Tour’s final tournament before the season – the PGA Tour Championship – kicks off on Thursday, with the announcement of the LIV’s departure reportedly immediately on August 29, according to the Telegraph.
When the news broke that Smith had made a $140 million move to the Saudi-backed competition after his remarkable win at this year’s British Open, the golfing world was shocked.
Cameron Smith will reportedly officially announce his move to LIV Golf on August 29, following the final event of the PGA season
Cameron Smith celebrates with the famous Claret Jug after winning the time-honored British Open in July
The 29-year-old Queenslander is currently ranked number two in the world and is in the shape of his life after victories at The Open and Players tournaments in addition to his third place finish at the Masters in April.
Smith isn’t the only high-profile defector to the league championed by Norman: fellow Australian stars Marc Leishman and Matt Jones will also join their compatriot, in what is reportedly a ‘deal done’.
LIV’s team-based game will see the Aussies tee off in a team of seven at the September 2-4 LIV Boston event, bringing in $25 million in prize money.
Aussie Matt Jones, who is ranked 82nd in the world, is also reportedly announcing his switch from the PGA to LIV
Jones’ compatriot 56th-ranked Marc Leishman is also announced as a member of Smith’s LIV team
The real big fish, besides Smith, is Hideki Matsuyama – not only because of his prowess, but also because he can take the “golf-crazy” nation of Japan with him to LIV, which is still establishing itself in both viewers and sponsorship.
“Hideki is the huge domino that falls. Hearing an Aussie team is essentially a foregone conclusion. But Hideki would bring a whole, huge golf-crazed nation under the LIV fold,” renowned golf expert Dan Rapaport wrote on Twitter.
“They would get a TV deal, sponsorship, team owner in Japan no problem. That’s why they offer him the BAG.’
Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama reportedly being ‘offered the bag’ by LIV Golf to switch from PGA Tour
However, the PGA Tour is not waving the white flag.
Golfing legends and high profile opponents of the Saudi back tournament – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – have teamed up, according to reports, to lead a new PGA Tour ‘stadium’ competition.
The duo have taken it upon themselves to take up the fight against LIV, which many golf fans and pundits refer to as “sports washes” by the government of Saudi Arabia.
The plan for the new league was shared with their fellow professionals at the Aug. 16 crunch players’ meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, which was believed to be organized in response to the ongoing LIV Golf threat.
Tiger Woods Leads the Response to LIV Golf
Woods and McIlroy have proposed a series of one-day events that will be staged in front of a live audience, technologically advanced and held in a non-green grass, stadium setting, according to Golf week.
McIlroy, who has been outspoken against LIV Golf from the start, said what Woods did for the PGA Tour was heroic.
“(Tiger) is the hero we’ve all looked up to. His voice goes beyond anyone else’s in the game of golf. His role leads us to a place where we all (PGA Tour) think we should be,” he said at a recent press conference.
Superstar Rory McIlroy is a vocal critic of Greg Norman’s LIV Golf league
For now, all eyes in the golf world are on the PGA Tour Championship at Atlanta’s East Lake course.
The final tournament of the 2021-22 season has a different format than other regular championships.
The higher a player’s FedEx Cup rankings (ranking for the entire 2021-22 season), the more strokes they will start ahead.
Smith, at four under, is six shots behind top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, and the race for the $26 million prize is wide open.